How Close Should You Really Sit to the Steering Wheel?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Joe Jones with Law Office of Bruce A. Ralston.

How Close Should You Really Sit to the Steering Wheel?
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It’s likely that most of us have not considered how far to sit from the steering wheel and where to position our hands while driving since we took our first driving test. However, seat positioning in relation to the steering wheel plays a big part in relative safety and even in the effectiveness of the airbag during a collision. Airbags deploy quickly and forcefully; people who drive too close to the steering wheel could actually end up doing more harm than good in the event of an accident. If you believe your injuries were caused or worsened in an accident due to your airbags, talk to a car accident attorney about your options for physical and financial recovery. Unfortunately air bag defects are one of the most common auto defects and can result in significant damage.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration suggests 10 inches as the optimal distance between a driver and the steering wheel.

The next time you sit down behind the wheel of your vehicle, consider how much space is between your body and the steering wheel airbag. If it is closer or farther, adjust your seat accordingly. Remember that most driver’s seats can be adjusted in multiple directions, and it may be necessary to adjust the tilt of the seat to ensure a distance of 10 inches while your feet are reaching the pedals.

Many vehicles allow you to adjust the steering wheel.

A little known fact about many vehicles is that the steering wheel is adjustable. A steering wheel could be raised or lowered and aimed up or down at the preference of the driver. Car accident law firms generally recommend drivers aim the wheel down rather than at the face or chest to avoid serious airbag injuries.

Common airbag-related injuries include the following:

  • Contusions to face and internal organs
  • Wrist injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Skull fractures
  • Organ lacerations
  • Eye injuries
  • Ear injuries and hearing loss
  • Internal bleeding
  • Fetal injuries for pregnant women

Wearing a seatbelt is a good way to help prevent airbag injuries.

Seat belts are designed to hold you securely in place in the event of a sudden stop or collision; they can also ensure that the airbag impacts you at precisely the right distance. In fact, when an airbag deploys in front of a seat where the passenger is not wearing their seatbelt, the injuries can be catastrophic. It’s imperative to refrain from allowing children under the proper height and weight to sit in a seat with an airbag. It’s important to follow all vehicle and traffic safety rules at all times while on the road; each rule is designed with a specific purpose in mind regarding driver and passenger safety.

Airbag defects are not uncommon.

It does bear mentioning that even when the driver sits exactly 10 inches from the airbag while wearing a seat belt, injuries can still occur. Most injuries sustained by an airbag deployment are minor and designed to prevent bigger injuries from occurring. However, when an airbag is defective it may deploy too early, too late, or at random times when an airbag is unnecessary. In any of these situations, risk to the driver or passenger with an airbag increase significantly. If you believe your airbag may have caused undue injury, it’s important to discuss the situation with a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

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